Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Thoughts on Alcohol

I think that for most of my life, I've never really felt grown-up. I know that I'm not completely grown-up yet, but the thing is that I still feel like I'm twelve most of the time. I think that it was those stereotypical high school movies that made me think that being in high school would be a certain way, but when I arrived in high school, it was a lot different. I told myself that real high school isn't like the movies. However, I now realize that the movies do ring true in some ways. I attend what I like to call a "nerd" school. The school I go to is a lot more vigorous than the typical high school, so the people that attend it have to be more committed to education. I liked that for the most part, since I do think that I can classify as a "nerd" at times. At my school, most people stress about tests and essays and don't really spend their time going to wild open house parties like they do in the movies. I had never had any interaction with drugs or alcohol and I was happy about that. For the most part, the students are the "good" kids and the "nerds" if life was a stereotypical movie, alcohol felt almost foreign to me.

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The movies made it seem like everyone was drinking, the parties would be crazy and out of hand. People would sneak into bars with fake IDs or steal their parents liquor. At first, I thought that the movies were exaggerated, since the people that I know don't do any of that. But as I've been encountering more and more experiences, I'm realizing that maybe this does happen in typical high schools. Drinking and partying and smoking, things that I never really indulged in. It wasn't until just recently that I had my first interaction with alcohol and teenage drinking, even if it wasn't direct indulgence.

I don't drink, partially because I'm underage, but mainly because I don't plan on drinking even when I'm of age. Something about not being in complete control just makes me uncomfortable. I know the risks of alcohol, such as risk of addiction, alcohol poisoning, and other long-term health risks. I have my own personal reasons to not drink now or later. To me, it's not worth spending the money on and not being in total control all the time. I, personally, don't think that I need alcohol to have fun anyways. And when they say that you don't have to be drunk to have fun, it's true.

The first time that I was offered a drink was when I was traveling to China in a summer program. In China, I think that the legal drinking age is eighteen, but they don't necessarily enforce it. Upon arriving, the kids in the program were excited to have easy access to alcohol. This was not their first time trying it and definitely not the last. My roommate was one of these people, she went out and bought beer, cocktail drinks, rum and coke, vodka cranberry, all kinds of alcohol. She picked up cigarettes and would smoke in someone else's room or out the window. At first, I dismissed it. I have nothing against other people drinking, especially because it's their life, not mine. I like to believe that I'm generally pretty easygoing about these things, kind of like a non-interference policy. I choose to do whatever I want with my life and she chooses to do whatever she wants with hers, as long as she understands the risks of what she is doing.
However, I got so sick of it when she began pressuring me to join her. She offered me beer. I responded by telling her that I hate carbonated drinks, which was true. She offered me rum and coke. I said I didn't like coke. She offered me vodka cranberry. I told her that I didn't drink. She offered me a cigarette, saying that one time wouldn't give me lung cancer. I told her that smoking was one thing that I never want to do. She wanted to go out for a girl's night of drinking. I made excuses to procrastinate it to a point that it never happened. It was tiring having to have to constantly refuse. I'll admit, it was tempting. A part of me said that I should just try it to taste it or to drink some just to get her to stop pressuring me, but I ended up being able to say no every single time. I was sober for the entire trip and never even took one tiny sip of alcohol.
Having to say no to alcohol, something that I had never had to do, since I never spent any time around teenagers drinking, was so unfamiliar. In a way, it was kind of a wake up call, telling me that I'm not twelve anymore. Maybe I'm not a grown-up yet, but I'm not a kid anymore either. Honestly, I think that this was probably the closest that I got to a "real high school experience," or at least what the movies portray it to be, since I haven't really had a typical high school experience. Like I mentioned previously, alcohol was foreign to me. I figured that I would probably not have any interaction with alcohol until around college, since I go to "nerd" school where people don't really drink, so in a way, I wasn't prepared for it. I don't know if I would have ever been prepared for it.

Am I a prude for not drinking alcohol or smoking?
I'm pretty sure that my roommate thought so. If you don't drink at a party or a social event that everyone else is drinking at, people might say that you're a buzzkill. Maybe they'll say that you're boring. Maybe they won't even want to spend time with you. This is the kind of thinking process that leads you to start drinking due to peer pressure. It's all in your head, wanting to fit in and "be cool," like everyone else. Maybe I am a prude or a buzzkill, but you know what, I don't care. I expected that by the end of the trip I would have caved into peer pressure and would have had a drink, but thankfully, I'm stronger than that. I believe that I can still have fun without alcohol, so am I really being a buzzkill?
After the first few days, the drinking died down in frequency and I was able to find friends that didn't drink, or only did so occasionally and respected my choice not to. Honestly, I had more fun with these friends without alcohol than I ever had with the group that was drinking. We had fun, sober nights, some where we were just talking and some where we were being adventurous. We tried strange Chinese candy, went for a night swim in the hotel pool, went to expensive stores and acted like we could afford them, and we had fun doing all of it. These were some of the best days on the whole trip, what made the experience so unforgettable, spending time with these people doing crazy things. We didn't have to drink anything in order to make the days count. And I don't regret a second of it. I don't regret not smoking or not taking a sip of a drink. At the end of the day, I had more fun not drinking than I ever had spending time with people who were. They still encouraged me to do new things that I probably would have never done on my own, but they never forced me to do anything that I didn't want to do. I was able to step out of my comfort zone, without compromising my values.

So as for my thoughts on alcohol, at the end of the day, it's your decision, not anyone else's. If you're peer pressured, you can blame the person that inflicted it upon you, but no matter how much they pressure you, it's your decision whether or not you drink. If you do decide to drink, be aware of the risks and consequences first and remember to stay safe. I'm not against people who choose to drink, I just don't want to be pressured into it, because I've made my choice and it's only up to you to make yours.


  1. I love this post. I think it's great that you shared this viewpoint about alcohol. And I can relate to your on this because I also have the mentality of "It's your life, it's your decision." I have a lot of friends who drink, while I have made the decision myself not to. And don't worry, I promise there are a lot of "us" at parties who would rather drink Sprite than alcohol. Major props to your fr standing firm with your decision on alcohol. Don't let anyone force you to change it.

    -Kim :)

    1. I'm SO glad that you can relate to my viewpoint! It's nice to know that there are still people that wouldn't mind being the designated driver like me!